According to the article, McKinley is worried about the effects that President Biden's environmental policy will have on employment. If I understand his point, McKinley believes that we need to subsidize fossil fuels* because people are employed in those industries:
“We have to make sure we are going to personalize it and make sure people are aware these are people’s jobs that are getting decimated,” McKinley said. “And don’t tell me — like (Special Presidential Envoy for Climate) John Kerry has — that we will make windmills. That’s not going to happen, and he knows it.
McKinley goes on to argue that “if there was a market for these items, investors would already be there.”
McKinley is probably right on the windmills – that ship (along with the investors) sailed long ago. Of course, the congressman doesn’t mention that some West Virginians have been arguing for many years that the state needed to diversify and then retrain coal miners for other industries. There was even a presidential candidate in 2016 who promised that if she were elected, she would make retraining a high priority. If my recollection is correct, the congressman (and Ogden’s papers) ignored that part of her message choosing instead to repeatedly attack an earlier part of her statement.
It should be noted McKinley has abandoned a point that he has long argued: that we should use coal because it is cheaper than other energy sources. Additionally, McKinley wants the government to continue to spend large sums of money researching ways to reduce carbon even though those efforts have produced minimal results so far. Is McKinley really calling for government involvement and subsidies to keep fossil fuels viable? What has happened to the 2012 David McKinley who first ran for Congress as a let-the-marketplace-decide, Tea Party member? I’m not sure, but perhaps the $84,750 that the oil and gas industry gave to his reelection campaign has something to do with his shifting position.
What surprised me about the article was that there was no reference to Texas’ energy problems. Surely, the congressman has some opinions on this. (My hunch is that this article was written a week or so ago – before the extreme weather caused problems for the Texas power grid.) Yes, McKinley has expressed his opinions on the Texas energy crisis. Here is part of his reaction:
It doesn’t take much research to prove that McKinley is wrong; sources put the renewable share at around 28%. Additionally, from Techcrunch:
Severe weather, blackouts show the grid’s biggest problem is infrastructure, not renewables
From the Guardian:
US conservatives falsely blame renewables for Texas storm outages
And from Marketwatch:
Texas power disaster may be strongest case yet for renewable energy
Finally, here is an article from the Associated Press that the Intelligencer chose not to run:
Texas blackouts fuel false claims about renewable energy
My hunch is that local readers will soon see an editorial on McKinley and/or Texas: one that praises McKinley for his “realistic” approach to energy and possibly another that predicts a dystopian future without power (Texas!) if President Biden’s energy policy goes forward. Look for them.
*Note – fossil fuels are already heavily subsidized in that it is society that pays the cost of their pollution and destruction of the planet as well as the added costs to our healthcare system.
Earlier today, Jon Allsop at the Columbia Journalism Review, explained how Texas' governor, with the help of right-wing media, changed the Texas story:
On Tuesday afternoon, Greg Abbott, the state’s governor, went on WFAA, in Dallas, to describe the problem. Natural gas, he said, was “frozen in the pipeline and frozen in the rig.” Then Abbott visited Sean Hannity, on Fox, and blamed renewables: “This shows how the Green New Deal would be a deadly deal for the United States of America.” At a press conference on Wednesday—his first of the crisis, more than sixty hours after the blackouts began—Abbott changed his message again. But his Fox comments nonetheless contributed to a right-wing anti-climate crusade; according to Media Matters for America, a liberal watchdog group, between Monday evening and Wednesday afternoon, talking heads on Fox News and Fox Business dissed green energy nearly one-hundred-and-thirty times. “Unbeknownst to most people, the Green New Deal came to Texas,” Tucker Carlson said. “The power grid in the state became totally reliant on windmills, then it got cold and the windmills broke.” (In reality, Texas is much more reliant on fossil fuels than on renewables, and the failure was system-wide.) It wasn’t just Fox: under the headline “Texas spins into the wind,” the Wall Street Journal editorial board accused “the media” of falling for “climate-change conformity.” As the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent wrote, the default crisis response of right-wing politicians, and their boosters in the press, is “to increasingly retreat from real policy debates into an alternate information universe.”